COL BKB: Pittsburgh 60, Xavier 55
Two huge plays by Levance Fields in the final minute Wednesday allowed top-seeded Pittsburgh to escape with a 60-55 NCAA regional semifinal win over Xavier.
The Panthers were set up to be the first No. 1 seed in the tournament to go down to defeat, but they survived thanks to a 3-point shot and steal by Fields in the closing moments.
Pittsburgh will play Saturday — against the winner of Thursday’s game between Duke and Villanova — for the East Region championship and a berth in the Final Four.
Xavier, the fourth seed in the East, owned an eight-point lead at halftime and grabbed a 54-52 advantage when Dante Jackson made a layup with 1:51 to play in the game.
The Musketeers (25-8) regained possession and had a chance to put the Panthers in a major hole, but Derrick Brown threw the ball out of bounds. Fields capitalized on the turnover by making a 3-pointer with 52 seconds remaining that gave Pittsburgh a 55-54 lead.
On Xavier’s ensuing possession, Pittsburgh center DeJuan Blair slapped the ball away from B.J. Raymond and Fields grabbed it on the run. He dribbled the length of the floor and made a layup for a three-point lead.
Xavier’s Terrell Holloway could make only 1-of-2 free throw tries with 16 seconds left and Sam Young gave Pittsburgh a four-point lead with two free throws with 13 seconds to play.
Young led Pittsburgh (31-4) with 19 points in a defensive battle that saw neither team shoot better than 33 percent from the field.
Raymond scored 15 to pace the Musketeers.